Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Department of Human Behavior, Ecology and Culture
Deutscher Platz 6
D-04103 Leipzig, Germany
My primary research interest is in the distribution and behavior of unstudied populations of great apes across Africa’s Congo Basin, in particular of chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes. At every new site where chimpanzees have been studied, they have been found to possess site-specific suites of behavioral traits, argued to represent cultural diversity. Large tracts of forests, particularly in the Northern Democratic Republic of the Congo, remain unexplored, and it is unknown whether or not they are inhabited by apes, or if so, how many apes. By conducting systematic surveys using line transects as well as recces and presence / absence data, we can develop a clearer picture of the distribution of African great apes in these hitherto unexplored forests.
In addition, I seek to understand the distribution of ape traditions, how they map onto genetic diversity, and how they are affected by proposed ape barriers such as rivers. Understanding where the apes live and how their behaviors are similar to or different from those of other populations is a crucial tool in assuring their survival, and also has much to tell us about our own biological and cultural evolution.